With the signing deadline for draft picks quickly approaching on Friday at 5 pm, Braves fans have been very interested for news regarding when the team will sign their top draft choice, prep pitcher Carter Stewart.
Over the last week or two, rumors have swirled that there were issues that came up during Stewart’s physical that resulted in the Braves wanting to alter their offer and that those initial terms were not to Stewart’s liking. Lots of different numbers, reasons, and degrees of concern were floated around (yay rumor mills), but the folks at MLB Pipeline have seemingly locked down the current state of things.
With the signing deadline at 5 p.m. ET on Friday, a dozen 1st-round 2018 #MLBDraft picks remain officially unsigned. Complete list and breakdown from @jimcallisMLB: https://t.co/LuCchkWsfl pic.twitter.com/zQBQUVXPjf— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) July 3, 2018
According to this report, the Braves and Stewart are the furthest apart amongst those with unsigned picks with the Braves currently offering $4 million to Stewart. If the Braves were able to sign him for around that much, the team could make a realistic run at their 34th round pick, Zack Hess which would round the draft class out nicely and help the Braves hedge their bets a bit in light of the results of Stewart’s physical.
This is a tricky situation on both sides. The Braves obviously like Stewart as a player and there is plenty to like, but if the wrist issue is serious enough, the team is right to have concerns with throwing top 10 money at a player with an injury that could slow or hinder his development. The Braves also don’t want to lose the slot value for their first round pick and there is no guarantee that the pick they would get next year (9th overall) if Stewart doesn’t sign will be a player they like as much.
On Stewart’s side, if the reports of a $4 million offer are true, he will be turning down big time first round money in line with what a lot of the prep players are getting in this draft class and betting that when he is eligible to be drafted again, he will make more than that. Thats a hard bet to make as that would require him to play very well and not get dinged for his current injury or get bitten by another injury bug. There are also benefits to being able to rehab with a pro organization’s resources and medical personnel. However, if Stewart is confident in himself, his talent level means that a top 5 selection in a few years isn’t outside the realm of possibility.
We will keep you updated as this story develops.